.The Portuguese in India
InThe writings of Marco Polo, 13th-century traveler, described India as a/the land of gold and spices. Ever since that theEuropeans had long desired to explore a sea route to India. Many explorers had tried to find it and had failed. One explorer sailed west, hoping to reach the East since the Earth is round, but he haddiscovered America and he assumed he had discovered India. andHe called themthe people there "Indians." Ever since thatThe term stuck, and the American aborigines still call themselves Indians. The white people call them "Red Indians." [I'm not sure how relevant or factual that is!]
Surprisingly [Why is it surprising?], Vasco Da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, anchored off the coast of Calicut, in present-day Kerala, in the late 15th century. Zamorin, king of Calicut, welcomed him and gave him a lot of gifts. King Zamorin lived in a place called Ponani which is in my home town. As a successful explorer, Vasco Da Gama returned to Portugal [His mere return to his country doesn't mean he was a successful explorer.]. After few years, Cabral, another Portuguese explorer and probably a viceroy, came to Calicut and established a factory there. I guess that they had some hidden agenda to conquer India step by step. Cabral fought with Arab traders, and I guess it was to establish
theirsupremacy in the sea. route.Arabs were major traders for Zamorin and they were good friends. The local people tooklooked upon the Portuguese as evil people since they killed Arabs and they plotted against them. They putset fire into the factory during the night and killed 50 Portuguese. In retaliation, Cabral killed many Arabs and bombarded with canon from seathe coasts of Calicut with canon fire from his ships and he killed around 600 men. After this, Zamorin and the Portuguese became rivals. TheCabral went to Cochin, in present-day Kerala, and had a meeting with king of Cochin. Cochin is south toof Calicut and their kings were rivals, andso Cabral took advantage of this rivalry. The king of Cochin gave themsome land to the Portuguese, and that place is called Fort Cochin today. People called it Fort Cochin because the Portuguese had built a fort there. It was typical of the Portuguese to built Fortbuild a fort wherever they went.
Later, Vasco da Gama returned to Kerala with 15 ships and 800 men. He made a trade treaty with the king of Kannur.
for favoring trade.Kannur, in present-day Kerala, iswas another kingdom north of Calicut. Vasco Da Gama could speak Malayalm, my mother tongue. He demanded that Zamorin toexpel all Muslims from Calicut, but our king refused. it.So, he bombarded the coasts of Calicut city. He captured many Arabs and local people, in theirtook them to his ship and tortured them in a brutual manner. He is known for his brutality. Vasco Da Gama died here and was buried in Fort Cochin, andbut later his body was taken to Portugal.
Eventually, the Portuguese were successful in
rulingcontrolling the sea route to India. Any foreign ship shouldhad to buy a permit from the Portuguese to trade in Kerala. Arab and Egyptian traders paid gold to buy this permit. I guess this iswas their first step towards conquering the land. The permit was a piece of paper quoting the name of the ship and its maximum capacity. The rivalry ofbetween Zamorin and the Portuguese grew as they hadfought many naval battles. The navalThose battles were led by a naval commander, Kungali Marrakar on the Zamorin side. He is considered as a hero in our place. The Portuguese explored further to the north toof Kerala and occupied Goa and other small kingdoms there. TheGoa became their headquarters as they had no peace in south India because of King Zamorin. king.In one battle, Kungali Marrakar was caught, and they took himtaken to Goa and they might haveprobably tortured on board inone of their ships. He was executed as a criminal there after trial in court. In my opinion, he didn't docommit any crime, because he was just fighting for his king. There is a famous story in our place about how the son of Kungali Marrakar avenged his father. According to that story, histhe son killed the viceroy who killed his father, Kungali Marakkar, in a battle but he himself was killed in same battle by gun shot. However, King Zamorin kingcouldn't defeat the Portuguese as they had guns and canons. Our people called the gun as"a device that spits fire."
The Dutch also came to Kerala for trade. They
Dutchmade a treaty with King Zamorin, and traded their guns for locally grown spices. Zamorin acquired new weapons and went for a naval battle with the Portuguese. The People here say that the battle was a ferocious very furiousone as both parties had guns and canons. The Portuguese were defeated. Ever since then, thatthe Portuguese had not come near south India and they eventually pulled off from entireout of India entirely. The Dutch didn't conquer any kingdom of India and they also slowly pulled off. The people here say that the Portuguese came here with swords and crosses. The swords refer to soldiers and the crosses refer to Catholic missionaries. saints.
saintsmissionaries converted many Keralites and Goans peopleto Catholicism. Today, 15% of the population of Kerala are Catholic, and other states in India consider our state as a Christian state. A few Keralites weregot married to Portuguese, thus giving birth to a half-Portuguese tribe. Unfortunately [Why is it unfortunate?] , this half breed["Half-breed" is considered derogatory by many people including me!] those mixed-background people look very similar to us but they are often taller and stockier. , stronger, more intelligent, more brutal.[Again, that's controversial and, in my opinion, totally unnecessary.] Many of these half-Portuguese later were in high demandemployed as assassins since they were too strong to fight with. Today these people are known as Anglo-Indians [Hmm, I thought that meant people of mixed British and Indian background!]. The Portuguese brought many fruits and vegetables to our land. For instance, we call cashew nuts as"Parangi manga" in our tongue. "Parangi" means Portuguese, in our tongue.and "manga" means fruit. Some even claim that the word mango originated from our word "manga." In addition, Portuguese architecture washighly influenced the style of several buildings in Kerala. later.
The Portuguese had impacted India a lot by building many churches, forts, buildings, and by introducing new fruits and vegetables. Later, the British established the East India Company in Calcutta and occupied the
entirewhole of India. However, they didn't conquer Portuguese-occupied Indiaplaces like Goa. The Portuguese kingdoms were later occupied by the French. Even today, Fort Cochin, Goa is maina major tourist spot for the whiteEuropeans. people.The church I attend is in Fort Cochin, and I alwaysregularly see some white people there. roaming around.
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